The UCR study of working conditions for more than 114-thousand employees in Inland Empire ware-houses was led by Ellen Reese, an Associate Professor of Sociology at UC Riverside.
"The warehouse industry is one of the most dangerous industries in the nation, and one where there needs to be much more accountability on the part of employers for warehouse workers’ working conditions.”
Reese says one of the biggest problems with employer accountability is that warehouse operators frequently pay subcontractors such as temp worker agencies to actually employ the people who do the work in warehouses. Reese says many of those temp workers are Latino immigrants who are paid low wages without benefits, and are often threatened with loss of their jobs or deportation if they complain. In addition to talking with workers, Reese’s study team also talked with warehouse management:
“Many of the people who run warehouses are under heavy pressure to do the job as cheaply as they can. You know, they need to compete with one another for the contract. And often the way they compete with one another is to provide it more cheaply than the next warehouse. And unfortunately what that means on the shop floor is that the workers are under heavy pressure to follow strict quotas and they’re often asked to do impossible amounts of work in a short amount of time.”
A fledgling inland empire labor organization, Warehouse Workers United, last week filed a state labor complaint against the operator of a warehouse in Eastvale, and its employee subcontractor. The complaint alleges unsafe working conditions in the warehouse, and intimidation and threats of retaliation when workers complain about conditions.